Each Advent, Father Richard Trout of All Souls Catholic Church presents religious sisters from around the Diocese of Orlando with gifts, donated by parishioners, and recognizes their efforts and devotion to serving Christ and others.
Father Trout and All Souls began the annual tradition in the mid-1990s. More than 50 sisters attended the Mass, concelebrated by Bishop John Noonan, at All Souls Parish on Dec. 10. The evening continued with hors d’oeuvres at the rectory and finally a sit-down meal with Bishop Noonan – who along with Father Trout attended the dinner to show his gratitude to the sisters – in the parish’s social hall.
“It’s in part a form of gratitude to those who have taught us in our schools,” Father Trout said. “We love the sisters very much; it’s our way of expressing this gratitude. We are grateful for them, and want to thank them. We also use the evening as a way to promote vocations, as many of the school children are helping out during the dinner.”
The evening gave sisters from around the Diocese of Orlando, serving in more than 30 religious orders, the chance to spend time together as a family leading up to Christmas.
“I think it’s a special evening because it brings all of the sisters together and is such an affirmation by the people we serve, and All Souls truly represents the Diocese of Orlando,” said Sister Rosemary Finnegan, O.P., Adult Education Coordinator at St. Margaret Mary Parish in Winter Park.
Additionally, the celebration occurred on the same weekend as the annual special collection for the retired religious sisters and priests. Sister Finnegan said that carried another special meaning.
“We, as sisters, follow in the footsteps of women as our leaders,” she said, “so it was an opportunity to recognize those that have gone before us as well.”